July 4, 2010

Fireworks and the Mental Scars of War


My husband had disappeared for part of the evening yesterday and I knew he was taking his sweet time coming home because our youngest son is cutting his molars. This has given me high pitched screaming and general fussiness over everything for the past week. Normally a happy child, you can always tell me when my son doesn't feel good because nothing pacifies him. I thought we had gotten past all the teething stages, but alas, the molars are breaking through and hell has entered upon us once more.

At first, I was slightly irritated because I felt I got the shaft again and always having to deal with the "bad" stuff with the kids alone. My husband only wants to be around them when they aren't sick, or loud....However, I did realize that I would rather have to deal with one child fussing, than one child and a husband with PTSD who is constantly going off on the slightest of things.
Last night was of course, the bulk of the firework displays city wide and county wide. Moving from the city last year in October, we have yet to experience any such annoyances out here in the sticks until yesterday. Yes, I have come to think of such things as annoyances because of the mental damage these types of things cause for my husband. This had us thinking, primarily because we are in a small farming and Mennonite community, that the chances of holiday shows were going to be slim next to none. Our local farmers, have proved to be quite hell raisers and of course, into the largest and loudest fireworks that could be purchased.

As soon as darkness landed across the mountains and the fields, the loud booms and lights began. I immediately thought of my husband and should I call him with some excuse of needing him here at home. I immediately started to panic inside thinking the worst, and running the PTSD scenarios in my mind. While rocking my son, my gut began to churn and I kept thinking "Please just let him get home soon". I hated having to think like that, but you never know with someone who suffers so badly.

I finally hear my husband's truck pull into the driveway and the relief literally washed over me. I can do better at handling him because I know how he gets, but I can't do much for him if I don't know where he is or what he is doing. Minutes passed me by......I finally got my son's teeth brushed and after a heavy dose of Tylenol, got him into bed. Still no husband. I looked out at the window, couldn't see him anywhere. Fifteen minutes of being home, and of course the largest of the fireworks at full blast going off.

I wasn't sure whether I needed to go outside and bring him in, or should I let him come in on his own. I feel as if I am constantly trying to shelter, or hover too much. He never says anything about it, but I know sometimes he gets irritated with me because I ask "are you ok?". So this time, I wasn't really sure what I needed to do. Fortunately for me, the door opens downstairs and he comes in. Phew! He comes up the stairs and immediately I knew something was wrong. He was sweaty, white faced and just looked odd. He said "It's a effin' war zone out there!".

I could only imagine for him what hell the fireworks must have done to his mind. It was literally the loudest and most fireworks I have seen. From both sides of our small community, you had two cities fire work shows amidst the hills...then you had the farm across the street who must have bought out a firework business because it just never stopped. Adding upon these, there were homes stretching for miles also shooting fireworks making the dark night sky out here brighter than the daytime. For two hours we listened to this ongoing display of holiday patriotism and for two hours, I watched my husband. I tried to keep him busy by putting in a movie and turning up the volume. I shut the main doors rather than just having the glass screen doors to block the sounds. I tried to open up communication although that was a waste of time but hoped in my mind he was listening to me rather than what was going on.

He did very well though although jumping a bit here and there, the sounds were somewhat muffled in the house. All I could think was thank the good Lord above for sound construction and heavy insulation! I guess I anticipated worse in my mind than what happened but that's from experiences in the past. I asked him "Are you alright?" He said " it's bothering me". I felt so sorry for him and all I could do was apologize. I was very proud that he maintained himself although you could see the emotional turmoil rolling across his face. I silently cursed the old man across the street for having so many fireworks but then felt guilty because who am I to begrudge someone else of fireworks just because my husband can't deal with them?

After two hours though, the fireworks subsided and I felt comfortable enough to leave him to watch his game on t.v. and head on to bed due to the late hour. I didn't realize how stressed I was until I went and laid down on my bed. I felt wired and tense although I was downright exhausted. I felt guilty for leaving him although he was half asleep in his chair and seemed to be calm. I still kept one eye on the open crack of our bedroom door, because in my mind I was mentally prepared for a melt down. I kept thinking, I am going to go to sleep and he is going to flip out all by himself and I can't be there to help him unless he wakes me up. I checked off this holiday and tried to think OK now what holiday is coming up next? I spent the next hour listening to every nighttime sound and jumping at the smallest of noises. I must have gotten up four times just to check on him passed out in his recliner. I went to bed with the ole mental "hands capping my ass" thought as if I was preparing for bad news or I was thinking about other PTSD spouses who might be suffering worse this night. The last thought I had was "Am I really this screwed up in my mind that I can't unwind and be relieved he didn't freak out?". After three years, am I becoming mentally scarred as he is?

I really don't know who fared worse last night with the fireworks, me or my husband? Am I really used to walking on eggshells all the time that I can't talk myself down and not freak out in my head over what happens or possibly could happen with my husband and his PTSD?

Possibly Mentally Scarred for Life,

Uncle Sam's Mistress

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